Back in 1978, the former JC Penney building didn’t look very classy

from the outside. Once rundown and abandoned, some doubted qualified

health care providers would ever emerge. But, what made the difference

was not the physical setting but the faculty inside.

Among them were four professors from California State Polytechnic

University, Pomona, who came on board for a year to help the fledgling

college of osteopathic medicine get its start.

More than 25 years later, three of those professors — now well into

retirement age — recently returned to Western University to reminisce

about the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific and its humble


“”(Being a founding faculty member) was one of the most interesting

things I had ever done in my career,”” said Edward T. Roche, who teaches

one course at Cal Poly as a professor emeritus. “”I wouldn’t have told

you then but I’ll tell you now: I would have done it for nothing.””

Roche was joined by Drs. James Jackson and Bruce Firstman in a tour

of Western University, taking in the new buildings and facilities,

including the new College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Jack Bath, who

started the Willed Body program at Cal Poly, was unable to attend the

reunion. Cal Poly’s new president, Mike Ortiz, as well as Donald O.

Straney, dean of Cal Poly’s College of Science, joined the tour as well.

Dr. Nadir Khan, COMP’s first faculty member, said he had very fond

memories of the early days and was thrilled to see his former colleagues.

Roche, Jackson and Firstman expressed admiration at the growth of

the campus and the technology offered to students. A few even toyed with

the idea of teaching again.

“”When our stint as adjunct professors was over, we all agreed that

COMP was a ‘going concern’ that would blossom,”” Roche said after touring

the campus and visiting with his friends. “”But none of us dreamed that it

would develop into the multifaceted organization that it is.””

President Philip Pumerantz honored the men and presented each with a

framed certificate of appreciation. He described them as four brave


“”You never forget your origins,”” Pumerantz said. “”It is a very

important time for me and my colleagues. We recently celebrated our 26th

anniversary and we owe you all a debt of gratitude for helping shape the

university into what it is today.””